- People who believe in one conspiracy theory are likely to espouse others, even when they are contradictory.
- Conspiracy ideation is also linked with mistrust of science, including well-established findings, such as the fact that smoking can cause lung cancer.
- Mere exposure to information supporting various fringe explanations can erode engagement in societal discourse.
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Did NASA fake the moon landing? Is the government hiding Martians in Area 51? Is global warming a hoax? The answer to these questions is, “No,” yet a committed subculture of conspiracy theorists vigorously argues the opposite.
Many scholars dismiss conspiracy theorists as paranoid and delusional. Psychological data bolster their case: people who harbor conspiracist thoughts are also more inclined to paranoid ideation and schizotypy, a mild form of schizophrenia. As conspiracy theory expert Timothy Melley of Miami University has put it, these beliefs are often dismissed as “the implausible visions of a lunatic fringe.”
This article was originally published with the title What a Hoax.